Monday, September 13, 2010

Fishermen are not POWs

One of the most disturbing consequences of the over-six decade long Indo-Pak hostility is the illegal detention of fishermen who mistakenly cross the maritime border of the two countries.

Now, it is a crime to enter another country without legal papers. However, the law must be humane. These are poor fishermen who do not have sophisticated GPS technology; they can only guess how far they are allowed to go, and their guess could be wrong. These fishermen on both sides are often arrested and detained for inhumanly long periods in the opposing country. What's more, they are not freed and repatriated even after they complete their assigned prison terms, but are kept as trading chips in the great game that nations play, like Prisoners of War!

Recently, the Pakistan Supreme Court, acting on a petition, ordered the release of hundreds of such Indian fishermen who have now come back to their motherland. The Indian Government has promised to do the same, but such promises are usually empty words. the Supreme Court of India must take suo moto action against this illegal detention. The Constitution of the nation comes before diplomacy and the Constitution does not allow prisoners to be detained beyond their term.

Civil society should also make an effort for the release of such prisoners. They are poor fishermen who are caught in the crossfire between elitist politicians on both sides. It is out human duty to help them, and the law is on our side.

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